Pocono II: Joe Nemechek race report

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 1, 2004) - Joe Nemechek came out of the gate strong, leading the first 31 laps of Sunday's Pennsylvania 500. He continued to run with the lead pack until he radioed the crew on Lap 60 to report that there was a transmission ...

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 1, 2004) - Joe Nemechek came out of the gate strong, leading the first 31 laps of Sunday's Pennsylvania 500. He continued to run with the lead pack until he radioed the crew on Lap 60 to report that there was a transmission problem, leaving him with only third gear.

From that point on Nemechek showcased his driving skills as he nursed the crippled U.S. Army/USG car for the remaining 140 laps to finish a respectable 16th on Pocono Raceway's 2.5-mile tri-oval.

"We had an awesome car until the tranny broke," said Nemechek. "I was cruising and enjoying my ride. I really felt like this was going to be our day.

"I am not sure why we had a transmission problem again, but it is frustrating (the 01 car also suffered a transmission failure at the June Pocono race). With only third gear all I could do was to try and save the motor from blowing. Considering what happened and what could've happened I guess a 16th place finish was pretty decent under the circumstances."

But it wasn't the finish that Nemechek was counting on after impressive performances by the Army car in Friday's practice and qualifying sessions (Saturday's practices were rained out). The 01 car was the fastest in practice and went on to qualify second, just missing the pole by two-hundredths of a second.

"It's really too bad we couldn't finish on a better note because we had a great car as soon as it was unloaded on Friday," explained Nemechek. "When you have a car as good as the Army car was this weekend, you need to take advantage of it. We didn't do that, but we showed again that this team has the potential to run up front."

After the transmission failure, the ensuing pit stops for the 01 team once again resembled a bobsled team. The only way to get the Army Chevy up to speed as it exited the pit stall was for the seven-member over-the-wall crew to push the car down pit road while Nemechek delicately slipped the clutch.

"In one breath, I am very disappointed with the finish," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "But in another breath I am proud of both Joe and the team for not throwing in the towel. I've said it many times, there is no quit in this team."

The next stop for the U.S. Army team will be at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday's (Aug. 8) Brickyard 400.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek